Monday, May 19, 2008

What we can all learn from last week


As Rafael Nadal and Jelena Jankovic won the last two big clay-court tournaments before the French (Hamburg and Rome, respectively), I thought the course of the week revealed some interesting things to look out for come Paris. To start:

• Rafa's the favorite going into the French: Well, duh! He was that anyway, but before you automatically hand him the trophy ...

• Roger Federer is back: Admittedly, I was ready to write him off (Well, as much as you can write Roger Federer off: Meaning he'd probably only get one Slam this year instead of the usual three!) and I was pretty skeptical about the Jose Higueras hiring. But until he ran into Nadal, he was destroying guys who probably thought they had a chance of an upset, which was good to see. And let me tell you this: The way the draw is likely to fall at the French, he could be a beneficiary of Novak Djokovic-Nadal beating each other up in the semis and be more rested than either one of those two should they get to the finals.

• Jankovic is a solid contender: Well, duh again, Van! She's been one of the top clay-courters over the past couple of years. I've posted before that she might not get to taste the glory of reaching a Slam final, as I also thought the rest of the big titles over the year would go to Serena and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. However, ...

• Will their laissez-faire attitude come back to bite them?: S. Williams and Sharapova basically treated the Italian like it was a Tier IV tournament with their bailouts. V. Williams lost a tough three-setter to Jankovic. While the only one of the three to win a French has been Serena, I still saw one of them taking the crown. Now, a little doubt's starting to creep in. We'll see how the draw goes.

• Eduardo who?: And since there's also tournaments being played on the tours in what can be called the "minor leagues" by some, you've read it here first: Watch out for this guy, Eduardo Schwank. Provided he makes it to the main draw of the French (he's currently the top seed in the qualies), he'll make it tough for anybody he faces. He just picked up his third Challenger title of the year this past weekend. But speaking of the less than heralded ...

• If last week's Italian Open finalist Alize Cornet doesn't make any noise at the French, I'll eat my hat. Promise!

(Photos: Getty Images)

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